It’s a new year, and while we may have a variety of hopes for the coming year — a cessation or at least a lessening of disease and war might top some lists — one of the things that you can be sure you’ll have to deal with are your annual taxes. (The usual quote about death and taxes goes here.)
While tax day traditionally has been set for April 15th, this year, we have until Tuesday, April 18th. (April 15th is a Saturday, while the following Monday is Emancipation Day, which is an official holiday in Washington, DC.)
One thing to be aware of is that, while there were a number of changes that were in force during the pandemic, the IRS is slowly pulling back on them. They are listed on this page; in short, these changes include: no stimulus payments happened in 2022 (so you can’t claim credit for any you didn’t get); tax credits such as the Child Tax Credit are going back to 2019 levels; and if you don’t itemize and take the standard deduction, you won’t be able to deduct charitable contributions. On the positive side of the ledger, more people may be eligible for a premium tax credit, and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 may qualify you for a Clean Vehicle Credit.
Confused yet? Try not to worry — we’re going to list some resources that are available so that you can prepare your taxes and pay them online. As always, it might not be a bad idea to start working on those taxes as soon as possible to avoid any last-minute panic (especially since, according to the IRS site, there are still lingering delays due to the pandemic). And whether you’re a full-time worker dealing with a single 1040 or a freelancer / gig worker getting a series of 1099s, the fastest way to pay the piper these days is to do it online.
The IRS offers a series of directions on its website to help US citizens figure out their taxes, report those taxes, and send in payments (or ask for refunds) using its e-file online method. Here’s a rundown of what’s available and where you can find it.
How do I file online?
There are several ways to file online depending on your income and your comfort level in dealing with the whole income tax process.
If your adjusted gross income was $73,000 or under, you can use the IRS Free File option. The site offers a number of third-party services that can help you put together and file your taxes free of charge. Of course, that is assuming the third party doesn’t try to scam you into paying more than you have to; back in April of 2019, ProPublica revealed that TurboTax and other suppliers were deliberately hiding the pages for their free services in order to convince taxpayers to purchase additional features. And while the IRS published rules in early 2020 prohibiting these practices, there have still been problems: in March 2022, the FTC sued TurboTax because of what it said were deceptive claims of free tax filing, and in May of that year, TurboTax agreed to distribute a refund of $141 million to consumers who were tricked into paying for its free service. So it pays to be careful.
If your income is above $73,000, you can still use fillable forms provided by IRS Free File, but you don’t get the support of the free software, and you can’t do your state taxes through this method. (If you’re really into doing your own taxes, you may want to check out the IRS page on tax tips.)
If you’re not a pro at filling out taxes, you’re going to either have to use e-file with one of the available software solutions or find a tax preparer who can do it for you. For those whose income is $60,000 or less, have disabilities, or whose English is limited, the IRS has a program called the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) to help with tax preparation. There is also Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) for people who are 60 or older. Go to the page describing these programs for more information. You can also use a locator tool so you can find one of the local sites near you. If you are over 50 or have low to moderate income, you can also take a look at the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program, which provides free in-person or virtual tax assistance with qualified volunteers; the site should be up for the 2023 tax season soon.
If you use a tax preparer, the person or company who does your taxes needs to be authorized to use e-file; if you don’t already have a tax professional, you can find one at the IRS site.
How do I pay online?
The IRS lists a variety of ways you can pay your taxes online.
First, you can have the IRS pull the funds directly from your bank account via Direct Pay for paying your annual taxes (using 1040 forms), your estimated taxes, or a number of other types of taxes; they are listed here. Direct Pay is for paying personal taxes. If you are paying business taxes, you can do that through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). Be aware that, according to the IRS, it can take up to five business days to process a new EFTPS enrollment.
You can also pay via a credit or debit card or a digital wallet such as PayPal or Click to Pay; however, there is a fee involved (since the IRS isn’t going to absorb what your credit card company is charging for the service). If you’re paying by debit card, it will cost $2.20 or $2.50, depending on the service you use. If you use a credit card, it could cost you up to another 1.98 percent of your payment amount — so if you can, Direct Pay is definitely the way to go.
If you owe taxes but simply don’t have the available funds to pay them, you can arrange for a payment plan. If you can manage to pay the full amount within 180 days, you can establish a short-term payment plan in which there is no setup fee (although you will have to pay penalties and interest on the owed amount). Otherwise, you could qualify for a monthly payment plan for which you apply either online, by phone, or by mail. It will cost an additional $31 setup fee besides penalties and interest, although it’s possible to get a waiver of that fee if you qualify.
How do I get my refund?
One of the ways the IRS tries to convince you to file online is to assure you that you will get your refund faster — in less than 21 days, in most cases, although there are exceptions. (If you file via paper, it could take six months or more to process.) Once you’ve filed, you can check the status of your refund online 24 hours after you’ve filed. You can also download the official IRS2Go mobile app, which allows you to check the status of your refund, pay your taxes, and get other information.
What if I’m going to be late?
If you can’t do your taxes by the due date because of a family emergency, job pressures, or because you simply put it off for too long, you can file for an extension. We’ve got a separate article telling you how to do that right here.